The constitution prohibits religious discrimination and provides for freedom of religion and worship consistent with public order, social peace, and national unity. It provides for the separation of state and religion and prohibits religiously affiliated political parties. The government prohibits full-face veils in Diffa Region under state of emergency provisions to prevent concealment of bombs and weapons. The government also prohibits open-air, public proselytization events due to stated safety concerns. According to media sources, President Mahamadou Issoufou, during his reelection campaign in February, said he would regulate the expansion of Wahhabism in the country but took no action as of year’s end.
According to religious leaders, cooperation between Christian and Muslim communities continued to improve in the wake of the violent and deadly January 2015 protests in the cities of Niamey and Zinder. The unrest was sparked by President Issoufou’s public statement “We are all Charlie” at an event in Paris commemorating the Charlie Hebdo killings. While the majority of the population adheres to the Maliki interpretation of Sunni Islam, Muslim leaders reported Wahhabism grew in size and influence during the year. The head of the Islamic Association of Niger and the Archbishop of Niamey urged mutual cooperation on National Cleanup Day in October, highlighting the importance of cleanliness and equating clean communities with faith.
In July the U.S. Second Lady met with officials from the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and leaders from a variety of religious groups to discuss the importance of religious tolerance, diversity, and respect in combating extremism and volatility in the region. The U.S. Ambassador and embassy representatives continued to advocate for religious freedom and tolerance through meetings with Muslim leaders and support of inter- and intrafaith dialogues throughout the country. The embassy hosted events and organized outreach activities and exchange programs with religious and civil society leaders to promote religious tolerance and encourage interfaith dialogue, including several interfaith iftars.